October 10, 2011

The War on Tape

There's less here than meets the eye, of course: they're simply removing what they see as a less important term from the "concise" edition of the OED, not attempting to erase it completely, and using the fact that they're doing it to call attention to the publication in such a manner that people like me will post outraged links to it. I'm in the publishing racket myself, a bit. If you can sell just one more copy, we publishing people tend to feel, it's worth being a little dumb from time to time.

That said, the notion that a dictionary ought to eliminate words that are "past their prime" is really quite screwy. Those are the words people tend to need to look up.

I doubt very much that anyone using the Concise OED in this edition's lifetime will be so puzzled by the term "cassette tape" that he would have to go scrambling to look it up. But then, by the perverse ethos expressed by the dictionary editor -- essentially a kind of "stick to what you know" standard -- that's an argument for keeping it in, if anything.

That's more comment than the story probably deserves. Note to self: cultivate an air of pauciloquent pococurantism when it comes to footling japes in the agora.

(via Nick Hornby.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at October 10, 2011 05:28 PM | TrackBack

Just so long as you don't get querulous and fretful about it...

Posted by: Don at October 11, 2011 11:58 AM
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